The Australian netball team achieved a second consecutive victory in their Commonwealth Games campaign, this time beating Scotland 83-30.
Despite the overwhelming scoreline, the Diamonds were more challenged in this game than against Barbados (95-18), as the Thistles fought back.
Stacey Marinkovich continued to test the depth and versatility of the group and found a few tricks up her sleeve in the process, after making 10 changes yesterday with another 12 today.
Four changes were made to the starting seven as midfielder Paige Hadley got her first run in the Games, starting the match at center and playing two half-quarters in her return from a minor leg injury.
The rest of the changes came at each end of the floor, allowing the Diamonds to try new bookends.
Up front, Kiera Austin and Gretel Bueta filled the shooting circle, while Sunday Aryang and Sarah Klau got their first chance to work together on defense.
The latter was more successful, as Aryang’s incredible closing speed allowed Klau to go in search of a midfielder knowing that he would quickly cover his player if the move didn’t go well.
This newfound combination will definitely come in handy as the Games go on, as it seemed to click early on and is likely to surprise teams.
Meanwhile, the experiment with Austin (10/13) and Bueta (33/34) was less cohesive, as Bueta missed his first shot just below the post and the pair had a couple of fumbles on offense.
Bueta, much like we saw for the Queensland Firebirds in this year’s Super Netball league, was almost doing too much, driving outside the circle to help get the ball onto the pitch and leaving no one inside ready to take the feed.
This was due in part to stiff competition between Austin and Scottish goalkeeper Emily Nicholl, who was able to delay Austin by entering the circle and keep her away from the play. Nicholl’s work made it difficult for shooters to connect and ultimately led to additional work for Bueta.
It also made it clear that the game plan revolved around a goal in the circle and midway through the first quarter Scotland capitalized on this, keeping the players open and forcing errors from the Aussies to go on a four-goal run. and change course. impulse.
The crowd at the NEC Arena loved this as it was the first close competition they had seen in five games played.
Unfortunately, Scotland’s change of momentum was short-lived, and in the second half the Diamonds’ attack really began to vibrate, with the score going from 17-10 in quarter time to 35-16 at half time.
Scotland also continued to lose possession, panicking in difficult moments and forcing shots into the goal circle instead of taking them to the edge of the circle.
Heading into the third quarter, Marinkovich made four rotations, trying two new combinations at each end and bringing Jo Weston to the wing defense.
It was only a matter of time before we saw the Diamonds use the 2022 Super Netball winning combination between Courtney Bruce and West Coast Fever’s Aryang on defense and pleasingly, that domestic pairing seamlessly transitioned onto the international stage after Bruce replaced to Klau in goalkeeper
It wouldn’t be a surprise if these two made another appearance together against Jamaica in the later stages of the group matches, given their inside knowledge against Sunshine Girls spearhead Jhaniele Fowler.
The other change that worked brilliantly was the injection of Cara Koenen (36/37) into the goal shot and Bueta’s shift to goal attack, seeing the ball flow freely towards the post.
Although this seemed like a completely new combination, Koenen confirmed that the two shooters had previously played together on the roads of Queensland during their days in the Australian Netball League.
That was years ago, but it’s clear that their connection is still strong, so it seems that Marinkovich has discovered a hidden gem with this couple.
“I’ve played with Grets a little bit in the past, but we still have work to do on this Diamonds team because sometimes we end up doing the same thing and hopefully that combination continues to grow and work on our balance in the circle to put the ball in.
“Gretel is such an amazing player, she’s so tall and athletic, and since we played together a while ago, our two games have come a long way… Steph Wood was on that team too, so it’s kind of full circle.” moment for all of us, which is really nice.
Leading by 33 goals heading into the fourth quarter, Marinkovich continued to play with his seven, returning to a similar lineup that finished the game against Barbados and put the last of his remaining players on the pitch.
Steph Wood (4/4) joined her Sunshine Coast Lightning teammate Koenen in the circle, Austin ran on the flank attack, Ash Brazill lit up the court in the center and Jo Weston joined Bruce on defense.
Australia also used Kate Moloney in wing defense for the first time at this tournament, having done a solid job throughout the match switching in and out of center with Hadley.
Despite the long list of substitutions, the Diamonds continued to dominate the game, extending their lead to have their fourth strongest (25-5) and record another big win by 53 goals.
They will have a day off tomorrow, before facing South Africa on Monday. It will be the first matchup the Diamonds have in Birmingham against a team in the top five.
Commonwealth Games schedule
Friday July 29 — Australia 95 d Barbados 18
Saturday July 30 — Australia 83 d Scotland 30
Monday August 1: Australia vs South Africa
Tuesday August 2: Australia vs Wales
Thursday, August 4: Australia vs. Jamaica
Saturday, August 6 — Semifinals
Sunday August 7: Bronze Medal Match
Monday, August 8: Gold Medal Match